Max's Travel Diary


Fiji and Tonga; December 2016 (Unedited)

Max Lichtenstein, Finn Ross

Let Them Fish



  • Arrived in Nadi; Honey was confiscated (Max can never bring Honey into Fiji; marked on his passport)

  • Hostel shuttle to Bamboo backpapers

  • 8 Room dorm
  • $22 Fijian each for a night
  • Dinner w/ a Swiss Journalist: Max: Fish and Chips, Finn: Kokoda


  • 0530 Wake up

  • Taxi to domestic airport

  • Board small 12 seat plane
  • Land in Savusavu
  • Met Max Cross
  • He dropped us to Vavilli and our Host Family - Lily; very kind
  • Slept
  • Visited Naqaqa (pro. Nan-gan-ga)
  • Ate/drank niu (coconuts)
  • Went to Savusavu for lunch (Chong Pong restaurant)
  • Played touch with the villagers and swam in the lagoon before dinner
  • Slept for 10 hours


  • Went with the kids for a big walk to a waterfall (savu) and almost got to the village farm but then came home. Super friendly and lots of fun. The kids swam at the savu. 

  • Walked from Vavilli to Naqaqa (40mins) along the road. 

  • Made up line and hook kits on wood and bamboo. 
  • First Distribution: Naidi Village (pro. Nine-di)
  • Huge success!!
  • Villagers loved it and very grateful. 
  • Takeaway points:
  • How young some of the boys are that go spearing at night
  • Necessary Items: More line/hook sets, gloves, masks, flippers, rubbers and wetsui ts
  • Back to Naqaqa to make more line sets
  • Vosa took us into Savusavu to fish off the wharf - caught nothing
  • Started raining (1830) hasn’t stopped (2130!)
  • Home for dinner; rice soup & stew with Kasava, lettuce, tomato and cucumber 
  • Forecast not looking good! - We don’t think we’ll be seeing the beautiful Fijian sun any time soon, same for Vava’u
  • Finally adjusted to the heat, it really takes it out of you 

Our Host Vuvale (Family):

Lily (Grandmother)

  • Leo (Lily’s son) and his wife                       Lily (13) and Laisiasa (10) 

  • Lily’s Daughter and her Husband                      Sila (14) and Junior (9)

Max’s Fijian Dictionary:

  • One: Dua

  • Two: Rua

  • Three: Tolu
  • Four: Va
  • Five: Lima
  • Six: Onu
  • Seven: Vitu
  • Eight: Walu
  • Nine: Thewa
  • Ten: Tini


  • Hello: Bula 
  • Goodbye: Moce
  • Thank you: Vinaka
  • How are you?: Bula Bula Tiko


  • Yes: Eo  
  • No: Sega


  • Left: Mawi
  • Right: Matau


  • Food: Kakana
  • Eat: Kana
  • Full: Mamau
  • Yummy: Ote
  • Coconut: Niu
  • Pineapple: Painapiu
  • Fish: Ika 
  • Eat more!: Kana vaka levu!


  • Big: Levu
  • Wave: Ua
  • Awesome: Joke
  • Fishing: Siwa
  • Quiet: Galu
  • Family: Vuvale


  • Lazy morning; stayed in bed and read

  • 1230: Walked to Naqaqa but walked around the edge of the reef at low tide. Bit of a mission but we made it! Passed 3 ladies fishing on the edge of the reef (Naidi Village) one was wearing a pair of LTF booties and they were using the line sets from yesterday’s distribution, but they hadn’t caught anything! 

  • From Naqaqa we went to Naqiqi (pro. Nan-gi-gi) village and met the village spokesman/mayor (Turaga Ni Koro) 
  • Gave gear to him for the village and we managed to fix his jammed reel for him which was cool
  • We’re going back on Friday morning to meet more villagers. There’s currently a wedding in the village so everyone is pretty busy of late!
  • Back to Naqaqa; went fishing from the Kayak out on the reef at high tide. No takes, one follow from a black tip shark. Fishing w/ wax wing lures. 
  • Explored the island beyond Naqaqa. Very sharp rocks (cuts to prove it) and not much else there


  • Another lazy morning reading…

  • There’s a power cut as a truck crashed into a powerpole overnight. In town, there’s one generator that powers the whole region of the island
  • Went down to the beach with the kids to swim and drink fresh Niu (coconut)
  • Finn’s loving his book! Max’s is also good, getting tense. 
  • Even lazier afternoon!! 
  • Max slept and Finn finished his book
  • We started a small game of touch w/ a few kids and then lots of kids turned up and joined in! Loose rules and constant changing of the teams but good fun!
  • After that, back down the hill to the beach for a swim. Stayed in the water for at least an hour.
  • Power was back on by the time we got home. 
  • William and Gosling’s and Brian are useless. Public holiday on Monday and Brian has been on leave for the past two days. Nothing has been achieved. The gear is still sitting on the wharf in Suva and hasn’t arrived to Savusavu… and then they charge us for storage on the wharf when we only want it to be shipped here, not pay extra!

16/12/16 ‘Friday’

  • Current time is 2347hrs. Been a long day!

  • Started with a [scheduled] 0930 pick up Fiji time! (Meaning it was 1000hrs) 
  • Max Cross took us up to Nagigi
  • Meet with the Turaga Ni Koro and he was happy we had fixed his rod on our last visit
  • Villagers began to arrive and the fishing gear was well received, proven by the golden photos!
  • Points for next time:
  • Better explanation of fisheries management. 
  • Their most valued item were masks/snorkels. Turaga Ni Koro says they’re needed the most. 
  • Back to Naqaqa for a few hrs. Still chasing up on shipping, it still hasn’t cleared customs so most likely not to be in Savusavu before we leave. 
  • Into town for lunch w/ Max
  • Went to the fisheries office and met a fisheries officer who went to St Peter’s, Cambridge! He gave us a contact to the head of Fijian Fisheries ministry
  • Walked through Savusavu main street - spotted a nice 90” Defender at the Yacht Club! 
  • Back to Naqaqa.
  • Had the most epic kayak fishing mission of our lives! Only caught squid but it was good fun in the rough seas and the rain 
  • We’d been chatting to one of our taxi drivers, who loves fishing at the wharf. He’s down their most nights if the weathers good. Found out his Dad also drove us and goes fishing too! Savusavu is a small place and everyone knows everyone! The son, roderick gave us a lift into town and we gave him a rod, some hooks and squidies lures. We also gave him two of the squid we caught to use as bait but soon relished we should have kept them for ourselves when we didn’t catch anything! 
  • Had a hearty meal in town at the ‘Surf and Turf’ and spun a few yarns. Finn was envious of Max’s Beef burger when his modest serving of fried rice arrived. All in all, a pleasant evening. 
  • After dinner Roderick’s Dad (Mohan) picked us up and we went for a fish in the dark, in the rain at the wharf. He only caught one small trev. Our score is still 0. 
  • He then drove us home, on the way stopping to grab a land crab on the road and giving a local guy who was out hunting them. Good fun but it had huge pincers!
  • It’s still raining. Forecast is for it to keep raining and the wind to pick up!
  • Entry closed: 0014hrs


  • Our first Saturday in Savusavu

  • And it’s not much different to any other day!
  • Our third ‘Lazy day’
  • Plenty more reading and plenty more rain
  • We’ve swapped books to keep ourselves occupied 
  • Max slept for a few hrs and Finn learnt some more knots to up skill himself and improve his fishing. 
  • We decided we couldn't be lethargic all day so we did a solid workout in our room. We need to keep the fitness up. 
  • Down to the beach for a swim w/ the kids and cousins. Played tag and a game of touch on the beach. Got whacked by Pena who plays league for the National U18 team!
  • Home for a delicious dinner of chicken and potato stew w/ rice and noodles
  • We’re still dressing our various cuts trying to prevent infections
  • Otherwise we’re healthy, drinking lots of water 
  • As i’m writing it’s pouring w/ rain! Hopefully it clears up.


  • Dreary eyed wake up this morning

  • Early breakfast, back to bed to read before getting ready for church 

  • Off to church at 1030, looking sharp in our Fijian sulu’s 
  • Nice short service with beautiful songs that we couldn't understand or sing along too, but sounded great!
  • The village church was destroyed in Cyclone Winstone and so the service take place in the Pastor’s house at the other end of our garden. The village is currently building a new church
  • Home for big feast of Ika galewa ‘female fish’ (We know as Surgeon Fish) Kokoda, lamb stir fry, potato’s, salad, kasha, cucumber and pineapple! 
  • We’re certainly going hungry in Vivilli!
  • Finn has a new found love of watching WWE on TV the kids and also this poorly translated (to english) Filipino TV Series. 
  • Meanwhile Max is busy sleeping and is also deep into the great book ‘I am Pilgrim’ 
  • Entered the living room to find the whole village choir rehearsing! Nice to see, great sound. 
  • We went for a run up the coast and a swim in the lagoon. Ended up running/walking home as we were both shattered. 
  • Tried to get an elusive niu, threw rocks at it, whacked it and Finn climbed (and fell out of) the tree… but it just wouldn't drop. We gave up and while we were swimming a local guy (who we’d asked to help us and was of no help) came back and got the coconut we has worked so hard for. We’ve got the scares to prove it too!
  • Did I mention it was raining as well?
  • P.S: The cold showers here are great, you just need a pair of pliers to turn the tap on!


  • Final full day in Fiji

  • Early start and off to Naqaqa
  • Sortyed through the remainder of gear so that it would be easier for Max and NGF to distribute. 
  • Into Savusavu for lunch and met Max C. in town. Note to self; the spicy pork was really spicy.
  • Visited the Williams and Gosling shipping office in Savusau to try and negotiate the payment down. But it didn’t work very well… the payment was due tomorrow or else we’d be charged more by the day. $88 in storage fees, when we didn't even want it stored, we just wanted it shipped! Long story short, W&G’s are useless. 
  • After that frustration, we then found the bad rain we have here in Fiji is even worse in Vava’u, can you believe it!? Because of this, the boat w/ the Tonga gear is also delayed meaning we wouldn’t be doing much in Vava’u except get cabin fever so we made the call to can that leg of the trip and head home early after our flight to Nadi from Savusavu. 
  • Thankfully Fiji Airways was happy to make the changes and we’ll be home in time for christmas! 
  • So in 26hrs time we’ll be back in NZ catching up with Family. 
  • On reflection this trip been an incredible experience for both Finno and I. Firstly, to live to live first hand in a Fijian village community (remembering, despite the nice resorts it’s still a third world country) but mots importantly to see, in person, the positive effect our efforts and support has had on the beautiful and very humble people of Fiji! 
  • Vinaka vaka levu!
  • P.S: I forgot to mention Leo and ‘Saisa took me on a wild goose chase in the dark, through the Fijian jungle chasing land crabs. the lads and lasses caught heaps and I only managed to bag a few but the little f**kers pinched me! All good fun though. Thanks for the adventure boys! 


Max Lichtenstein

December 2016

Savusavu: December 2016

We had an amazing and humbling trip to SavuSavu, Fiji and the surrounding villages. It was beautiful for us to see the results of the work that we have done over the past year towards our aim of fighting poverty through fish. Massive thanks to Fiji Airways and the Naqaqa Giving Foundation.

Moving into our Storage Warehouse

We are very lucky to have secured a small warehouse space in Auckland to collate and manage all of our donated fishing tackle. See the photos below as we moved gear by the van load. This week we are busy studying for exams and packing the gear for our December shipment, leaving at the end of this month. 

Cyclone Winston: Fisheries Rejuvenation

Interesting piece on Radio New Zealand National with the Wildlife Conservation Society about the destruction of fisheries as a food/protein source for the people of #fiji, caused by Cyclone Winston earlier this year. 

The story features Sangeeta Mangubhai and talks of rebuilding Fiji's fishery whilst still providing a suitable and sustainable source of food for the people of Fiji.